Beethoven: Complete Sonatas and Variations for cello and piano

Reviewed on Fri 06 Jan, 2017

Admirable (and enjoyable) throughout is the keen sense of reciprocity between the soloists – a combination of youth and age perfectly blended and utterly coherent.

Expect to find playing of the utmost relaxation here in Beethoven's three sets of variations on themes by Mozart and Handel, all realised with eloquent ease by Shai Wosner’s liquid and silvery piano and the deftly detailed cross-hatching of Ralph Kirshbaum’s cello. Although more taxing, the five cello sonatas fare equally well, Wosner youthfully buoyant, Kirshbaum sagely grounded. Recorded in London’s Wigmore Hall after a long British and American tour, these are performances of lived-in familiarity and insight – the First fleet and vibrant, the G minor Second imbued with searching emotion, the Third lent due gravitas, the Fourth brimming with colour and contrast, and the fugal finale of the Fifth nimbly delineated. Admirable (and enjoyable) throughout is the keen sense of reciprocity between the soloists – a combination of youth and age perfectly blended and utterly coherent. Recorded sound frames both instruments as equals, and Philip Borg-Wheeler provides useful notes.
–Michael Quinn